Preserving Our Environment with “Grub Cycle”

Preserving Our Environment with “Grub Cycle”

A MALAYSIA SOCIAL ENTERPRISE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO BUY GROCERY PRODUCTS AT BELOW MARKET PRICE

By  Seely 

Redza Shahid (29) Co-founded Grub Cycle in June 2016. At first, Grub Cycle had 4 cofounders Asyraf, Hawanisa, Chacha and himself. The idea of starting up a social enterprise was first conceived when he was still doing his University studies. He realised that he needed to do more than what he was learning in the University so together with his friend they joined and volunteered in several charity organisations to help out orphanages and to paint houses. At that moment he was working at an investment company and the boss gave him an idea of how to start a social enterprise and fully encouraged him by submitting his name to a social enterprise programme then, organised by MaGIC in early 2015.

Due to this, Redza was given a KPI (Key Performance Index) to learn more about social enterprises such as the business
model, leaders of social enterprise, and other topics that are related to social enterprise. After one year, he was told to upgrade his position by deciding whether to join a social enterprise or to start on his own. In December 2016, Redza and the other 3 cofounders successfully raised up to RM 1 million grant and at that time there were a few investors that wanted to invest in their social enterprise.

Grub Cycle has 3 stakeholders that play crucial roles, the Co-founders, Investors and Consumers. The main purposes of Grub Cycle are, firstly, to reduce food waste in Malaysia while the other companies are focusing more on food composting. Redza believed that rather sending the food for composting, the edible food should be sold at a lower price. Secondly is to reduce daily expenses for their consumers, in fact, the grocery price had increased by 25% since 2010 but, the average salary in Malaysia has only increased by 20% within the same period. Lastly, Redza’s personal reason was a hope of attraction and encouragement towards other potential social entrepreneurs by involving himself in the social entrepreneurial industry.

How Grub Cycle Works 

Since Grub Cycle launched back in 2016, it has emphasized its focus on reducing food wastage and ensuring that the low-income community can spend less money on food. So the question is what has been done in order to bring this idea to life. Below are some of the Grub Cycle offers to the public and how they can reach out directly to their customers and community.

Grub Groceries

A survey was conducted and it was discovered that there is an increased amount of food waste from local supermarkets and about 15,000 tonnes daily wastes from these supermarkets. 3,000 tonnes out of the 15,000 tonnes will still be edible and 10% is from groceries and supermarkets. This is because 30% – 50% of the products that are shown on the shelves in the supermarket are being thrown away. Grub Cycle obtains surplus food products from their partner supermarkets at an affordable price. These products are either 1 – 3 months from the expiring date. However, these products will be fully ensured and validated for their edibility. Grub Cycle will then sell these items from the website, mobile app or any other means convenient to their customers and delivered to them at no delivery cost.

Grub Mobile
This is like a mobile kiosk but in form of a food truck. It will be visiting low-income community areas 3 hours a day selling surplus food directly to the low-income community. However, If the customers are technology literate, they are able to order and buy online.

Grub Homemade
With this Grub Homemade, Grub Cycle improvises by turning surplus fruits or vegetables that might have been deemed rejected by the supermarket or that is not into a farm-to-table product. Examples include cabbage kimchi, pineapple jam, apple cinnamon and chili chutney. Grub Cycle in-house Chef-In Residence meticulously develops recipes based on high-quality food commodities that would otherwise go to the bin. Don’t worry: they are not recycling expired goods.

Grub Bag
Grub bag is one of the ways the Grub Cycle gives back to the community by subsidizing low-income families’ food essentials. It comprises of rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt and eggs. Grub Cycle delivers Grub Bag to the families on a monthly basis with the hope to lessen the burden of the families in need & empower their economy! But this model is rarely.

THE GRUB CYCLE EFFECTS

On launching the social enterprise, there are three main objectives that have been driving Grub Cycle daily to maximum productivity. Measuring their social impact performance could be done easily by comparing the KPI (Key Performance Index) of these main objectives. These objectives can be considered in a way that Grub Cycle has been contributing heavily to the socioeconomic needs of the society.

Reduce Food Waste
Edible surplus food from grocery stores and cafes are being prevented from wastage daily, considering that 30% – 50% of the products that are shown on the shelves in supermarkets are being thrown away based on the survey. Grub Cycle buys these surplus edible products from the grocery stores at a lower price which encourages the grocery store to still make money out of what was meant to be wasted. Lastly, Grub Cycle will sell these products to their customers below market price.

Another way Grub Cycle has been preventing wastage of food is by collecting the fruits or vegetables that had been deemed unsellable due to their shape for instance. They are then turned into a farm-to-table product. This is through Grub Homemade model.

So, as individuals, how can we personally prevent food wastage or what can we do about food wastage?

  •  As a food producer, you can reduce wastage by investing in better harvest and storage-technology to avoid food loss
  • As a retailer, you can reduce the price of those imperfectly shaped or shapeless vegetables or donate the unsellable yet edible surplus grocery food to those in need rather than disposing of them.
  • Revising those sell-by expiration dates so that the perfect and safe food products are not discarded.
  • Raising awareness on food wastage education such as what Grub Cycle is doing should be highly encouraged.
  • Food that is not fit for human consumption should be fed to the animals.
  • As an individual consumer,  you should be more careful when shopping and only pick the necessary things.
  • We can also use better methods to store and recycle leftovers and request smaller portions in restaurants.
  • Food wastage pyramid is based on garbage, so as policy-makers, they can enhance the ability of producers, retailers and consumers to turn that pyramid around.

With all that Grub Cycle has done and measuring their social impact performance to prevent food wastage, Grub Cycle has also managed to save 2201 kg of food from being wasted and this number is still increasing.

Save Money
Foodies will get the satisfaction of their money’s worth with every inexpensive purchase. To reduce daily expenses for customers, as a matter of fact, the grocery price has been increased by 25% since 2010 but the average salary in Malaysia has only increased by 20% within the same period based on a survey by Grub Cycle through an interview. With this issue at hand, the low-income community is unable to make ends meet when it comes to buying food or grocery products. But with the Grub Grocery and Grub Mobile, all those low-income community areas are able to have direct access to a below market price surplus food.

Help Others
Grub Cycle Co-founder has taken pride in himself to be someone who really cares about the less privileged community and he constantly encourages other entrepreneurs to also contribute to the community positively. So Grub Cycle encourages everyone to become an agent of change in their respective community. This can be done by buying from Grub Cycle because with each item sold, a percentage of Grub Cycle’s profit will benefit the underprivileged. Till date according to the Grub Cycle website as at the writing of this article, 250 Grub Bags had been delivered.

GRUB CYCLE ACHIEVEMENTS
Food waste is one of the biggest concern of the world. In fact, by 2050, the world needs to produce at least 50% extra food to feed 9 billion people. While 25% of crop yield may be decreased because of climate change. Moreover, most of the food
manufacturing companies, municipalities, supermarkets, restaurants, and the federal government start applying practices and critical strategies for decreasing food waste[1].

Take Malaysia, for instance, food waste is a huge problem. Based on the SWCorp Malaysia, a government agency which deals with solid waste stated that they generate 38,000 tonnes of waste per day and around 50% of the solid waste is food waste. Moreover, out of 50% of solid waste, 60% of waste that going to landfill is still edible which in fact, that could have fed 2,000,000 people. SWCorp has also stated that food waste can increase up to 50% during the festival season.  There have been many movements to combat the food wastage in Malaysia. There are groups trying to recycle the food that is unsaleable at supermarkets. One of them is the Grub Cycle[2].

Grub Cycle is a part of the global movement to combat and decrease food waste and to save the environment. There is a creative way that was used by people from all over the world to combat food waste such as creative marketing incentive that celebrates “ugly” fruits and vegetables. Grub Cycle itself has launched a Grub Mobile which is the first mobile kiosk and it is located in Bukit Lanchong.

According to Grub Cycle website, they have contributed towards saving approximately 2,201 kg of food, saving the consumer expenses of around RM 20,958 with 250 Grub Bags delivered. This proves us that the Grub Cycle model is really working and the effects have also made impacts on people such as, firstly reducing waste by saving edible surplus food from cafes and grocery stores from being thrown away. Secondly, is saving money which foodies will get their satisfaction with their money’s worth with every inexpensive purchase.

In the future, Redza hopes that there are other social enterprises with the same passion and mission as similar to Grub Cycle to combat food waste. This will enable us to work side by side and cut down on the food waste in Malaysia. Redza believes that there are not enough social entrepreneurs to bring about positive changes to the community and environment. If there are enough social enterprises contributing to the same mission similar to Grub Cycle, food waste in Malaysia will cut down to the maximum level.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE FUTURE FROM GRUB CYCLE?

Grub Cycle is planning on having their own physical grocery supermarket here in Malaysia as a start before the end of this year 2018. With this kind of push, it can change perspectives on food wastage and bring positivity towards the idea of preventing food wastage. It will also be easier for the low-income community to purchase their grocery products at a lower price. Grub Cycle is also looking forward to expanding within the South East Asian Countries like Singapore for a start.

For more information on Grub Cycle feel free to visit our website and view our various products www.grubcycle.my 

 

PEOPLE POWER SAVES MALAYSIA – FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY

PEOPLE POWER SAVES MALAYSIA – FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY

MAY 9

PEOPLE POWER SAVES MALAYSIA

MAHATHIR LEADS THE WAY

 

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About The Book

May 9 was a significant day for all Malaysians. It heralded a new landscape – economic, social and political – for the citizens.

This book is a fascinating read that is retold through the inner stirrings of a young boy, an unfortunate victim of a sick and corrupt system on the brink of economic collapse. In the face of rising costs and unemployment, the boy yearned for a change. Will tomorrow ever come?

By sharing glimpses from the innocent lenses of a child, the author has painted a stark contrast of childlike simplicity with the world of grown-ups that is consumed by greed and glittering gems. It captures the journey of a nation that has witnessed the most dramatic trajectories of greed and power.

As the journey unfolds through the pages, we blush at the shameful erosion of a political system and the painful departure of leaders entrenched in corrupt practices. We applaud the triumphant ushering of a new team who would pick up the pieces and lead the people to new beginnings. This is a heartwarming narrative where Malaysians came together as one, and with a singular voice, they ignited the historic shift.

Through a compelling compilation of observations from journalists, commentators and political activists, veteran journalist and academician Krishnamoorthy sheds penetrating insights into the events leading to the iconic moment when the country’s once longest ruling Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saw it as a call of duty to restore the nation’s glory. At age 93, he saved the country from the pits of kleptocracy.

May 9 People Power Saves Malaysia – Mahathir Leads the Way is a story of hurt and healing, abuse and forgiveness, of gloom and glory, and of tears and triumph. It is a tribute to Malaysians and Tun Dr Mahathir. Indeed, it celebrates the courage, hope and dignity of Malaysians — to create a brave, new Malaysia.

Surely, tomorrow will come, and it will be better than today.

About the Author

Krishnamoorthy Muthaly is a journalist who lives by his convictions. A veteran in media relations, Krishnamoorthy is passionate about providing readers with fast-paced stories, and adopts a decidedly different view to storytelling. His penchant for nothing but the truth has honed his investigative journalistic skills throughout his career, as he seeks to untangle the truth from a complex web of spins.

Self-motivated, resourceful and versatile, Krishnamoothy is one who goes beyond the superficial façade of life. One contributing factor that lends depth to his writing is his humble background. He started work as a junior officer in Tenaga Nasional from 1989 to 1979, and saved his earnings to pursue a degree in journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Whilst at the university, he played a prominent role in the Knoxville festivals. Unprecedented in the history of the university, Krishnamoorthy organised a meeting for student leaders with former President Jimmy Carter in 1982.

As a senior reporter with The Straits Times and The Star for more than two decades, he has highlighted society’s concerns. He has gone undercover as a beggar, security guard, blind man, a physically challenged passenger, a salesman and a Member of Parliament. His exclusive scoops have not only brought timeless insights to readers but have also provoked our conscience, while unveiling the good and the bad about human nature.

With his crisp writing style and inquiring mind, he bagged several awards, including the Journalist of the Year 1987 from the Malaysian Press Institute and Consumer Journalist of the Year. Apart from writing, Krishnamoorthy is a media coach specialising in media writing and crisis management. He has also served as an academic with various universities, imparting his journalism knowledge to students. He is currently an Associate Professor at an internationally acclaimed university.

At almost 70 when most people would gladly retire, the author is not one to pause for the twilight. He continues to freelance with CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Time magazine, New York Times, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, as well as German, American and Australian TV stations, where he conducts interviews with world leaders. Krishnamoothy’s stories and coaching embody his approach to life. Embracing the belief that people are uniquely different and are miracles in progress, Krishnamoorthy strives to add value to the lives of young people, and is committed to training and empowering the next generation for organisations. Essentially, he lives by the maxim of loving all and hurting none.

WHY THIS BOOK?

WHO

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad played a key role campaigning at 93 and brought Malaysians of all races together through the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto. GE14 is a historic event of how Mahathir saved Malaysia from corruption. This book is a reminder to act against those who stole people’s money.

WHAT

The Malaysian Tsunami of voters wanted the change. Everything that happens to us is the result of what we ourselves have thought, said and done. Malaysians are determined to be resilient, resourceful, and open minded to face the challenges and realities of the 21st century. Malaysia was engulfed in darkness and we finally saw the light on May 9.

WHEN

May 9 was a significant date. Malaysia made history when opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan ousted the 61-year-old ruling Barisan Nasional through its campaign against kleptocracy.

WHERE

Nationwide, the Malaysian psyche changed. In Malaysia, we took the responsibility to vote for a brighter future for our children and a better tomorrow.

WHY

My passion for writing. Why gossip? It is better to put my thoughts in writing. Journalists are known for writing the first draft of history. Not me alone, but others too have a chance to express their thoughts in this book. News, views, comments and statements by leaders are often forgotten. I am just documenting as events unfold for the record.

HOW

People Power defeated an unfair, unjust and authoritarian government. Everything that happened was the reflection of our thoughts and can be changed by our thinking process. I tried my best to chronicle this book as a story from darkness to light in Dr Mahathir’s last battle to rule Malaysia.

AMBIGA TELLS IT LIKE IT IS

(Foreword — extract)

Love Malaysia, End Kleptocracy

Together, we can create a wave of change for a better future for Malaysians. We succeeded in ousting a kleptocratic government. In most of my public talks, I said Malaysia could have been branded as the “Switzerland of the East” if not for corruption that plagued the Barisan Nasional government. Enough is enough. Barisan has ruled the country for 61 years and how could RM2.6 billion be deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal accounts?

Malaysia was blessed with a wealth of natural resources and talent, but corruption had become part and parcel of daily life. As the saying goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Fortunately, Malaysians have voted out a kleptocratic government. Before GE14, Malaysia faced a bleak prospect of the collapse of the rule of law, the creation of an absolute dictator and the establishing of kleptocracy as a norm. The leaders then infringed the law and continued to hold the reins of power, consolidating their positions.

FREE BOOK!

EXCLUSIVELY FOR MALAYSIAKINI

1-YEAR SUBSCRIBERS @RM200

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Watsons’s #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri to lift humanity to new heights

Watsons’s #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri to lift humanity to new heights

What is the true meaning of sincerity?

Watch the #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri event brought to you by Watsons Malaysia.

Share all the good deeds that you’ve done and submit it with hashtags #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri and #WatsonsMalaysia Watsons Malaysia will donate RM1 to Darul Insyirah for each entry. Do Good and Feel Great this Ramadan.

There are many unsung heroes in our lives. Doing a good deed nourishes your soul. Heart-warming incidents in the name of humanity make the world a better place.

Saving lives matters more than anything else. Offering genuine help to others doesn’t go by race and religion. Sapno Tukijo, a “bilal” of the Taman Free School surau in Penang provided shelter for 70 flood victims at the worship place, saving them from the flood onslaught.

#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Mangsa Banjir Bukan Islam Menumpang di Surau

#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Mangsa Banjir Bukan Islam Menumpang di Surau Jika anda mempunyai kisah/misi, kongsikan bersama kami untuk dijadikan sebagai inspirasi dan motivasi.200 mata (RM1) akan didermakan ke @Darul Insyirah untuk setiap penyertaan yang dibuat.Bagaimana untuk sertainya?1. Kongsikan kisah/misi anda melalui status, foto ataupun video di Facebook & Instagram.2. Gunakan hasrat #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri dan #WatsonsMalaysia .3. Pastikan posting anda umum.Untuk keterangan lanjut: https://goo.gl/Wyz1QNKredit: SAYS-#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Penang Bilal Provides Shelter to Non-Muslim Flood Victims.If you have a story/mission of goodness, share it with us so we can inspire others to do the same. 200 points (RM1) will be donated to @Darul Insyirah for every submission made. How do you make a submission?1. Share your story/mission through photo, video or status posts on Facebook & Instagram.2. Use both the #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri and #WatsonsMalaysia hashtags.3. Make sure your posting is made public.Find out more at: https://goo.gl/Wyz1QN Credit: SAYS

Posted by Watsons on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Malaysian national basketball player, Mohd Shadzwan Kamalrulzaman, saved the life of an unconscious man at Hong Kong International Airport by performing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) rescue.

#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Pemain Bola Keranjang Malaysia Selamatkan Nyawa di Hong Kong

Misi Ikhlas Aidilfitri, merupakan kempen amal daripada Watsons Malaysia untuk mengajak orang ramai menyebarkan kebaikan kepada semua orang. Jika anda mempunyai kisah/misi, kongsikan bersama kami untuk dijadikan sebagai inspirasi dan motivasi.200 mata (RM1) akan didermakan ke Darul Insyirah untuk setiap penyertaan yang dibuat.Bagaimana untuk sertainya?1. Kongsikan kisah/misi dengan di Facebook & Instagram. 2. Gunakan hasrat #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri dan #WatsonsMalaysia.3. Pastikan posting anda umum.Untuk keterangan lanjut, layarilah https://goo.gl/4TYMZo.Kredit: SAYS-#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Malaysian Basketball Player Saves Life in Hong KongMisi Ikhlas Aidilfitri is a CSR campaign by Watsons Malaysia that invites everyone to help spread some goodness. If you have a story/mission of goodness, share it with us to inspire others to do the same!200 points (RM1) will also be donated to Darul Insyirah for every submission made. How do you make a submission?1. Share your story/mission on Facebook & Instagram.2. Use both the #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri and #WatsonsMalaysia hashtag.3. Make sure your posting is made public.Learn more at https://goo.gl/4TYMZo.Credit: SAYS

Posted by Watsons on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Sometimes it’s just a small random act of kindness that is genuinely inspiring and motivating. Sean, a Malaysian teenager, offered to carry a 15kg luggage and accompany a Filipino man with leg injuries throughout the flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur.

#MisiIkhlasAidilfitri Remaja hulurkan bantuan kepada lelaki yang cedera dalam perjalanan ke Kuala Lumpur

Hanya satu interaksi kecil dengan orang yang tak dikenali mampu memberikan makna yang besar kepada yang memerlukan.Jom kongsikan nilai murni yang anda lakukan dan hashtag #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri & #WatsonsMalaysia!Dengan setiap hashtag yang dipost, kami akan mendermakan 200 mata (RM1) kepada Darul Insyirah.Ketahui lanjut di https://goo.gl/Wyz1QN.Kredit :SAYS-#MisiIkhlasAidilfirtri Malaysian Kid helped Injured Man who was Travelling to Kuala Lumpur Even the smallest interaction with a random stranger can actually mean a great deal to someone in need. So, come share with us your act of kindness and hashtag #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri and #WatsonsMalaysia!Because for every submission or hashtag posted, we will be donating 200 points (RM1) to Darul Insyirah!Learn more now at https://goo.gl/Wyz1QN.Credit : SAYS

Posted by Watsons on Wednesday, 16 May 2018

For actress Ezzaty Abdullah, something straight from the heart is spiritually meaningful and powerful. Heartfelt smiles are a form of positive energy that can cheer someone up, for instance.

In conjunction with the holy month of Ramadan, Watsons welcomes you to extend your salute to the unsung heroes through the #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri campaign, which is running until 2 July 2018.

In line with the spirit of giving back to the community, for each photo or video with #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri and #WatsonsMalaysia shared on Facebook and Instagram pages, Watsons will be donating 200 Watsons points (RM1) to Pusat Jagaan dan Pendidikan Warga Darul Insyirah under the auspices of Pusat Kecemerlangan Pendidikan Ummah (PACU), an NGO championing the welfare of senior citizens. A minimum of 4,000,000 Watsons points (RM20,000) is the target.

As actress Shima Anuar rightly says it, you can always make a difference by caring, giving and sharing. Forge closer community ties by reaching out to people in need. Join the noble mission of #MisiIkhlasAidilfitri by #WatsonsMalaysia to lead by example.

for more details please visit Watsons Malaysia Website or Watsons Malaysia Facebook

In celebration of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Watsons is running the Jualan Mega Raya with discounts up to 50% until 25 June 2018. Add more elegance to your personality this Raya with a wide selection of health and beauty products at Watsons stores nationwide and Watsons Online.

I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

I am not simply Chinese Malaysian; I am ‘Hakkien’

I grew up eating Hokkien mee a lot. It is still one of my favorite dishes to this day. For those who have no inkling of what Hokkien mee is, it is a dish of thick yellow noodles stir-fried in black soy sauce with pork lard, prawns and cabbage, and served with a must-have chilli shrimp paste condiment also known as sambal belacan in Malay.

Contrary to what people believe, this popular dish did not originate from the Fujian province of China but was allegedly created by Wong Kian Lee, an immigrant of Hokkien descent who ran a hawker stall in the area now known as Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur, in the 1920s.

Many Malaysian Chinese are of Hokkien descent with a vast majority of them residing in the states of Penang, Selangor and Johor. Besides Hokkien, there are many other dialect groups such as Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, et cetera whose forefathers – many of whom originated from south China – made this country their home many centuries ago.

There is no specific rule in the Chinese custom that prohibits intermarriage among the various dialect groups. Hence, interdialect group marriages among the Chinese were commonly practiced in those days and even more so in this modern day and time.

What it means to be ‘Hakkien’

Whenever someone asked me which dialect group do I belong to, I simply say, “I am “Hakkien” – one who is born Hakka but could only speak Hokkien.

No, I am not “speaking bird language” here. My father is Hakka and my late mother was Hokkien. I was born and raised in Klang, and lived there until the late 1990s before moving to a new township which is just an hour’s drive away.

Klang was – and still is, I believe – a Hokkien-majority town. One would only need to look at the huge mansion-like building that houses the Klang Hokkien Association and be convinced.  There are no other Chinese guild buildings around town that could come close to surpassing its sheer size and grandeur.

Many non-Hokkien Klangites like me grew up speaking Hokkien as our mother tongue. I guess this custom was quite prevalent in many towns and villages back then, as Chinese of different dialect groups tended to use the dominant Chinese dialect of the locality for social interactions and communication between dialect groups.

Hokkien was once widely spoken in the community and played a significant role in defining Klang’s place-identity, but today its usage is not as prevalent as it was in the past.

While Hokkien is still largely spoken among the elderly folks or street-market traders, those of the younger generation appear to be lacking in enthusiasm to use Hokkien as a lingua franca in their daily inter-communal communication; partly because some see Hokkien usage as an indicative of a lack of education, vulgarity and backwardness. The further decline of usage is also attributed to the rise of Mandarin as the preferred language among the Chinese-educated families.

Many studies conducted by linguistic scholars in Penang and Singapore have revealed that the use of non-Mandarin dialects in their respective regions is in dire decline and this phenomenon is in tandem with the decline of many other minority languages in the world. According to a study by a United Nations independent expert, Rita Izsák, “half of the world’s estimated 6,000-plus languages will likely die out by the end of the century” if no effort is made to preserve them.

The waning of place-identity

I am no linguist expert nor am I a dialect proponent, but my concern is less with the decline of dialects per se than with the waning of place-identity. What I am particularly interested in is the relation between language and place, and am curious as to how one would articulate that relationship.

That is, what role does language play in making places? Can language be a tool that helps us to uncover and discover the authenticity of places and its people?

Take Hokkien, for example. There are two versions of Hokkien spoken in this region today. From Penang in the north to Johor in the south, each state has developed a sort of their own unique localized variant of Hokkien, the difference in which can be easily distinguished by the sound of the speaker’s voice and words he or she uses.

Generally, all versions of Hokkien are mainly derived from the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou variants – the two oldest dialects of Southern Min spoken in Fujian province. The Hokkien of the southern states of Malaysia speak the Quanzhou variant, while the version used in the northern states  is derived from the Zhangzhou variant, and is commonly known as “Penang Hokkien”.

Interestingly, the northern version of Hokkien contains more Malay loanwords than the Hokkien spoken in the southern states. As such, it is said that a Hokkien speaker from the south would find it much easier to speak Hokkien to Taiwanese or Hokkien speakers from Fujian province, rather than one from the north.

Such is the potency of place to shape language as it evolves. Conversely, language has the power to shape how places are perceived and interpreted, as each language may paint a different picture of a place to the people who speak the language.

Great places are not only topographic entities, they are also socially constructed by “voices” of people in interaction with one another to form ideas that would then translate into action, and the action would in turn culminate in making. As Yi Fu-Tuan, a well-known geographer, once wrote: “It is not possible to understand or to explain the physical motions that produce place without overhearing […] the speech – the exchange of words – that lies behind them.”

A personal creative endeavour

Speech and spoken words have always held a certain appeal to me, particularly when they are used to ascribe and associate meaning to a place, or to bring back memories of a distant past that are closely linked to one’s birthplace.

My work-related visits to my hometown Klang, of late, has brought back many memories of my younger days, growing up in a town where Hokkien is the only dialect I could understand or speak with competence.

Hence what started as a recollection of my early years quickly grew into an impetus for personal creative endeavour. And thus my first foray into public art began. My hope is that my artwork could assume the role of an interlocutor to stimulate thinking, to prompt dialogue, and to heighten our awareness of our communal roots and values.   

For many foodies, Klang may be a town synonymous for its authentic bak kut teh, but for me, Klang is more than just a town where I was born. It is also a town infused with meaning and relevance that holds the key to my past. I am not simply a Chinese Malaysian; I am a “Hakkien” whose substantial identity is very much rooted in the habitus of Hokkien-ness.

Ti.Tu – Hokkien for spider. Catching spiders to fight is probably unheard of by many urban kids nowadays but it was one of the many childhood pastimes that I had, especially after- school hours.

Kong,Jiao.Wei – A Hokkien phrase which literally translates as talk bird language. It is often used to denote someone is talking nonsense.

Kay.poh – A Hokkien phrase for busybody or someone who is nosy.

Beh Tahan – A combination of the Hokkien word for cannot, andthe Malay word for tolerate, tahan.

The artworks shown here can be found in the vicinity of Jalan Stesyen 1, Klang. This self-initiated public art project would not have been possible without local community support, particularly from the Klang City Rejuvenation team.

Website: Klang City Rejuvenation Project

Facebook: We Love Klang

What will happen when you abstain from voting?

What will happen when you abstain from voting?

In the 13th general election in May 2013, there were 11.2 million out of 13.2 million registered voters who cast their vote, which represented an 85% turnout.

The turnout was unprecedented in all Malaysia’s past general elections and the opposition’s result in the election was also unprecedented.

The opposition was, however, unable to form the government albeit obtaining a 51% popular vote due to gerrymandering. BN, with 47% popular vote, managed to form the government with 133 out of 222 parliamentary seats.

As the 14th general election, which is the mother of all elections, approaches, we are now faced with two challenges: the 4 million unregistered voters and a newly emerged group who intend to abstain from voting.

It is unclear if the group who are planning to abstain from voting is a subset of the unregistered voters or otherwise. In either case, if they do not plan to vote, they effectually become the same group of silent Malaysians whose voices will not be heard.

I assume those in the movement who intend to abstain from voting are relatively informed about what’s going on in politics instead of totally clueless about politics or electoral system, as one of the most heard arguments from the group is “will a change in government change anything at all?”.

We can, therefore, infer that the intention to abstain stems from disappointment towards political parties, rather than misconception that voting is not important.

I can understand the frustration as the government doesn’t seem to be solving the problems when the nation is being named kleptocracy when the economy deteriorates, and when the people are struggling to pay their bills.

Many may also have lost hope from the previous general election as even though the opposition achieved 51% popular vote, BN could still form the government.

Many also have their doubts on Pakatan Harapan, thinking that the policies implemented in Penang and Selangor cannot be done the same at the federal level, hence might as well do nothing at all. There are also people who wish to abstain from voting as a form of protest against the non-existential of a perfect political party.

But what do you think will happen when you abstain from voting? Neither side forms the government? Is such protest in any way meaningful?

In the past, we relied on our experience in understanding and anticipating how would factors such as demography, voters’ age, occupation, race, and region play their part in the election result. However, in the coming general election, all these factors now seem to be less reliable as indicators of voting pattern.

Do the majority of Chinese from rural constituencies necessarily vote for MCA? Do the majority of Malays necessarily vote for Umno? Do the majority of Muslims necessarily vote for PAS? Do the majority of Felda settlers necessarily vote for BN?

All these questions have different answers now as compared to a decade ago. The extent of the differences is the core of discussion amongst Malaysians, especially politicians for the past two years.

Since there are uncertainties as to which political parties will the unregistered voters vote for, why would the opposition want more people to come out and vote?

The primary reason is simple – we believe in a society where its people are proactive in involving themselves in effecting changes to the nation. Only through voting, your voice can be heard and changes become possible.

Besides, politicians who truly believe in their policies, want more people to cast their vote. Any political party with sound policy proposals would want voters to hear them out, make their own assessment, and hopefully, vote for them.

The opposition’s aspiration in setting policies that best serve the people can be attested by our achievements in Selangor and Penang – which is why we are confident in the policies we propose and we want them to be implemented at the federal level.

When we protest, we want our voices to be heard, and corresponding actions to follow. Not casting your vote or casting spoilt votes is not a form of protest but an act of giving up our rights to protest.

If we divide the 4 million unregistered voters evenly across 222 parliamentary seats, we are looking at some 18,000 could-be voters per parliamentary seat who are giving up their rights to be the reason for change for the nation. The movement of abstention will further “delegate” your power to decide your future to others and undermine the spirit of democracy.

Looking at the evolving dynamics in Malaysian politics, we believe that a change in government is possible and probable. The last and most crucial element we need now is a widespread belief across different segments of the society that every one of us is the game changer for this coming election and that every vote counts.

Let’s not give up our rights to decide our future.

An artist’s path to fame and fortune

An artist’s path to fame and fortune

An artist's path to fame and fortune

Geraldine Tong, 2 May 2017

It is not easy to find stability and exposure as an artist, especially in Asia. However, as popular Instagram account ‘Dudu De Doodle’ discovered, there are more ways than one for an artist to earn his or her keep.

Dudu De Doodle’s Instagram has close to 30,000 followers, who are treated daily to a new artwork from Dudu, the anonymous artist behind the account.

But Dudu did not start off as an ‘Instagram-famous’ artist. And until today, he is not even a full-time artist.

“As an artist, it is quite challenging in Asia. You cannot really sell your products through the Internet.

“I tried to sell (my artwork) once, three years ago. I drew on shirts, shoes, clocks, but it was so difficult I almost gave up.

“I still have some of the merchandise at home,” Dudu said in an interview with Malaysiakini last week.

After his failed venture to sell his artworks online, he said he decided to change his perception.

“I thought, why not put all the sales and money aside, and just do it for my own interest?” he said.

So, in October 2013, Dudu started his Instagram account under the pseudonym ‘Dudu de Doodle’, in which where he posted his artwork, daily.

Instagram in 2013 was a different landscape than it is now. In 2013, ‘Instagram influencers’ was still a fairly new phenomenon in Malaysia.

Though the account started out slow, it picked up speed eventually, reaching its zenith in 2015, when he was getting hundreds of new followers every day.

“I didn’t know that, as an artist, one can achieve the level of an ‘influencer’.

“After I slowly moved to an influencer level, I realised that when the owner or the agency really respects (your work), you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t breach the rules.

“That’s the priceless thing that money can’t buy,” Dudu said.

He lamented that it is usually a challenge to get Malaysians to recognise local talent.

“We don’t even have a chance,” he said, citing the example of the famous murals in Penang, which were painted by Lithuania-born artist Ernest Zacharevic.

However, his popularity on Instagram brought him opportunities to showcase his art on a larger scale.

Dudu is currently working on a promotion campaign with technology giant Samsung, as well as on smaller mural projects in cafes throughout Kuala Lumpur and the Klang valley.

Despite all that, Dudu values his anonymity for various reasons, the most important of which is that he wants his art to speak for itself.

Experimenting use of coffee as paint

The pictures of his artwork on his Instagram has always featured a strong link to food. Then, about two years ago, he took it one step further and began experimenting with using coffee as paint and the nearest flat surface as the canvas.

Going through his Instagram account, one can find artworks ranging from those inspired from Japanese animation to Western superhero portraits.

A particular favourite of his, Dudu pointed out, is his portrait of Wonder Woman, painted entirely with coffee on his table at home.

It's rainy day but never too cold for kakigori. Hey Polar, I'm not a shaved ice, Totoro said ?. #mykori

A post shared by DuDu Doodles The World (@dududedoodle) on

He spent about 45 minutes drawing that portrait and he loved the end product so much, he told his fiancee that he wanted to keep it on the table for as long as possible.

“In the next second, I spilled water on it,” he said with a laugh.

That is the ephemeral fate for all his coffee paintings on tables, he said.

“It is a love-hate piece because you really love it but you cannot keep it. It is just a good memory that I store on Instagram,” he explained.

The first time he attempted a coffee painting was a portrait of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, at a ‘kopitiam’.

The art attracted the those operating hawker stalls at the outlet, but the kopitiam owner wiped off his art, saying that Dudu had vandalised his table.

Unfortunately, Dudu said, that was not the last time someone accused him of vandalising their property, for people do not understand it is supposed to be art.

He then related an incident in Singapore, where he drew a coffee painting on an al fresco table of a coffeeshop. He then left.

Later on, when he walked past the coffeeshop again, he noticed that the table he had painted on, which was outside the shop, had been moved inside, and put up as a display.

“That was the happiest thing for me,” he said, to see that his art was being appreciated.

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